Body Language Before Dog Bites

Mark writes: After catching up on doggy email, I’ve noticed your reference to submissive posture. Your book helped more than a professional trainer I hired for my adopted Golden. We went through biting and  dominance issues.

The problem I am having now is I still do not trust him 100%. When he bit there really wasn’t any sign it was coming (that I noticed). Even now, the only sign that he doesn’t like something  is a lowered head and sometimes a low growl (the groomer told me this).

This dog growls sometimes when he is happy. It is almost like someone
taught him not to make any other noise in doors. Outside he will bark.
I guess the big question is how do you read a dog’s face, body, etc.?

Dear Mark:

It’s a tough situation you’ve got. You’ve really got to just pay close attention to the dog at any time you suspect she may display the aggression. The most common indicators that I used when working with clients who had aggressive dogs was to watch:

1. The mouth. A dog will always pull has mouth closed tight just before
he bites.

2. Body language. The dog’s body language will get stiff and still just before he bites. Especially watch the stillness. It’s very subtle, but at the same time very noticeable once you train your eye to look for it.

There are other things that you could look for depending on the dog and the type of aggression. However, you need to recognize that there are ALWAYS cues… it’s just a matter of whether we are quick enough (or aware enough) to catch them.